Above: Michelle Stacey, a fifth-generation farmer from Flinders, is determined to prevent the spread of the weed karamu in her local area.
Michelle Stacey is a fifth-generation Flinders farmer and President of Main Creek Catchment Landcare Group (MCCLG). Nothing irks her more than invasive weeds.
“I hate weeds. Being a farmer, you’re out there trying to deal with weeds on a regular basis. I look around the Mornington Peninsula and see what could be done so easily if there was a coordinated approach to weed control,” Michelle said.
Michelle grew up on the property that has been in her family since the 1860s when her ancestors, John and Hepzibah Baldry, arrived from England and set up a sheep and dairy farm. The couple first lived in a bark hut on Main Creek, raising a family in difficult circumstances, before building the mud brick homestead, which still stands today.
A desire to learn more about sustainable land management motivated Michelle to join MCCLG eight years ago. She and her partner Geoff Baker had just moved back to the family farm from the Northern Territory, where they had managed large tracts of Defence Department land.
“I saw a revegetation project on the property next door which prompted me to start asking questions and looking for information. I was keen to get ideas on how and what to do.” Michelle said.
Michelle enjoys being part of the MCCLG education program, including frog nights, snake talks, and bush and property walks. She has learnt much about indigenous flora and fauna of the area.
“Seeing local ecologists talk and listening to other Landcare members sharing their knowledge – you are learning all the time. I also enjoy meeting like-minded people and getting to know the community. Everyone is from such diverse backgrounds. Yet we can come together and work together for a common goal,” Michelle said.
Learning from the experts
Michelle has gained valuable skills and knowledge about sensitive bushland management through her involvement in Landcare.
“Since moving back to Flinders, I’ve enjoyed learning from local experts about different methods of weed control such as hand weeding, rather than just boom spraying. In the NT you’re using helicopters to do weed control because it’s a much bigger scale.”
Using her project management and negotiation skills, Michelle has been instrumental in tackling karamu (Coprosma robusta), a highly invasive woody weed from New Zealand which forms a dense monoculture – even killing mature trees. She nominates the Meakins Road project as the most satisfying achievement to date.
With funds from the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA and Landcare Australia Limited the MCCLG worked with the Mornington Peninsula Shire to mulch karamu and replant with indigenous vegetation to create an important wildlife corridor. Landholder education
and engagement was a large part of the project.
Karamu control project wins award
“We did an initial door knock to get the landholders on board. We kept them updated and gave them the opportunity for feedback,” Michelle explained.
Bringing landholders along was a key to the project’s success. The group’s achievements were recently recognised as finalists in the Keep Australia Beautiful – Tidy Towns Protection of the Environment Award.
Michelle holds grave concerns for the integrity of Victoria’s bushland if more is not done to control karamu.
“Our parks and bushland areas will be overrun by karamu unless we do something now to prevent this weed spreading,” Michelle said.
Despite these concerns, Michelle is positive about the future of Landcare.
“MCCLG has lots of members and is a great group. The future for Landcare on the peninsula is bright. I’d encourage people to join because it’s a great community organisation to be involved in. The more people we’ve got aware of our weed situation, the better chance we’ve got of dealing with the weeds”.
Jacqui Salter is the Landcare Facilitator with the Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network. Her position is funded through the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.
For more information email Jacqui at email@example.com